Playing Games in the Old Days
Although there were a lot of chores to do, the children of the early settlers of Menomonee Falls still managed to have fun. The children didn't play with video games or watch TV.

Instead, they read books, and played with board games, rag dolls, and wooden toys. Store-bought toys and games were expensive and hard to come by.      

Instead of buying toys, children used their imaginations to create their own toys and games out of the materials that were available – wood, leftover cornhusks, and fabric scraps. Some of the early games like hopscotch, jump rope, and hide and seek, are still played today.

Rolling the Hoop - Children would run along beside a hoop, rolling it by using a stick. Sometimes races were held to see who could be the fastest.

There were also contests to see who could roll the hoop the farthest or who could keep it rolling for the longest time.

Drop the Handkerchief - Players join hands and form a circle while "it" holds a handkerchief and runs around the circle. "It" drops the handkerchief behind one of the players and keeps running.

The player then picks up the handkerchief and runs around the circle in the opposite direction. They race to see who reaches the empty spot first. The loser becomes the next "it".

Hot and Cold - One person (it) leaves the room while the others hide a button (or some other object). When "it" returns he/she has to try and find the button.

The others give hints by saying "warm, warmer, hot, or cold, colder, etc."

Poor Doggie (or Poor Kitty) -"It" is the doggie who must try to make someone laugh. The players sit in a circle and Doggie goes to each player and barks, whines and pretends to be a dog.

The players have to pet Doggie and say "Poor Doggie, Poor Doggie, Poor Doggie!" The player must not smile while saying this or he/she will become the next Doggie.

Blind Man's Buff -To play Blind Man’s Buff, pick one person to be It. That person is blindfolded and stands in the middle of the room. The other players dart around It, who tries to tag them. They try to get as close as possible to It without being caught.

When the player who is It catches another player, he tries to guess who it is by touching their face and hair. If he doesn’t guess on the first try, other players can give hints. When he guesses their name, that person becomes the new It.

Jack Straws - This game is like "pick up sticks". Straws or very thin sticks were used. The straws were placed in a pile shaped like a haystack or tent (coming to a point at the top and spread out at the bottom).

Each player took a turn pulling a straw out of the pile trying not to move any other straws. If a player was able to get a straw without jiggling any other straws he/she scored a point.

Then it was the next player's turn. The game ended when the stack fell. The winner was the player with the most straws. To make the game more interesting, there were "special" straws which were worth more points.

Marbles -Marbles were very popular with boys, who saved and traded them, carrying their marble bags with them everywhere they went. Most of the time marbles were played “for keeps”- if a player captured a marble in a game, he took it home with him.      

To play a game of marbles, draw a large circle in the dirt. Draw a smaller circle inside the larger one, and place the marbles inside it. One at a time. players crouch outside the large circle and aim their shooters at the marbles, trying to knock one out of the small ring. He keeps any marble he knocks out.

A player’s turn goes on until he fails to hit a marble or sends his shooter out of the larger circle. The player with the most marbles at the end of the game wins.

Bobbing for Apples - Fill a large tub with water, and float several apples on the water. Players clasp their hands behind their backs and try to grab apples with their teeth. It’s harder than it sounds, and usually leads to some good laughs.

Snap the Apple -Tie several apples onto strings and string them from a ceiling beam or doorframe at different heights. Players try to get a bite of the apple – no hands allowed!

Jacks - The game of jacks was played with small six-pronged objects called jackstones, or jacks. The first player started the game by throwing the jackstones on the ground.

The other players then took turns tossing one jack into the air, picking up another jack from the ground, and then catching the flying jack as it came back down-all with the same hand!

In the next rounds, players tried to grab two jacks, then three, then four. If someone failed to pick up enough jacks, or allowed the flying jack to hit the ground, that person was out of the game.


Hopscotch - Draw the layout with the chalk - 3 single squares, 1 double square, 2 single squares, 1 double square, 1 single square. You can number the squares if you want.

The two rules of hop scotch are:
1) one foot in each square only
2) Hop over the square with the rock in it.

Use a rock to throw into the first square. Hop on one foot over the square with the rock in it. Land with two feet on the double squares.

On the second turn, throw the rock into the second square, and so forth. The tricky part is staying on one foot when the rock is in one of the side-by-side squares


Five Stones - Sit in a circle. Choose one person to begin, then take turns going around the circle. The first player tosses one stone in the air and tries to catch it on the back of the hand from which she threw it. If she catches it, she remains in the game. If not, she is out.

The person to the first player's left tries to do the same. After everyone in the circle has tried to catch one stone, try with two, three, four and five stones, taking turns as before.

Continue playing until everyone has missed. The person who is able to catch the highest number of stones on the back of her hand wins.

Hints: * Practice for a while before you begin playing. * Keep your fingers together when you are trying to catch stones. * Flat stones are easiest to catch.

Ninepins - Ninepins can be played with two or more players. The object of the game is to roll the ball and knock down as many of the wooden pins as possible. The first player to score exactly 31 points is the winner.

To begin, the ninepins are set up at one end of the table in a single row horizontal to the players, or in three rows of three. The players stand at the other end of the table and take turns casting the ball at the pins.

After each player takes a turn, a point is scored for each pin knocked down. Once all nine have been knocked down, they are set up again. Players continue to knock down pins until someone wins by scoring exactly 31 points. If a player goes over 31 points, he must knock down all nine pins on his next turn in order to win the game.


Bear in the Pit- (10-30 players) A bear pit is formed by the players joining hands in a circle with one in the center as the bear. The bear tries to get out by breaking apart the bars (clasped hands), or by going over or under these barriers.

Should he escape, all the other players give chase, the one catching him becoming bear. This is a favorite game but is not too rough. The bear can pretend to break through bars in one place, and suddenly turn and crawl under another.


Corn Husk Doll - Pioneer boys and girls couldn’t afford to buy fancy dolls. Instead, they made their own out of whatever materials were at hand.

One kind of doll was made out of cornhusks. The early season corn held the yellow silk which could be used for blond hair, while mid season corn was reddish brown, and late season was darker brown.

The larger pieces were used for sleeves and skirts and the smaller pieces for heads and bodies.


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